Thursday, February 28, 2013

Making Hot Smoked semi-candied Salmon at home: First attempt.

Having no recipe to guide me, working only from my own experience and fables of how they make that amazing smoked salmon in the northern part of Vancouver Island (Hardy Boys is one example you may have heard of), I decided to dive in and make smoked salmon.

My smoker, a mister to calm the fire, and home made maple syrup to brush on top

The first job was to cut up the salmon into long strips.

Then I made a mixture of salt, maple sugar, and black pepper.  I dredged each piece of salmon in the mix and cured it for about 20 hours.

after curing
At this stage the salmon feels very firm.  All that moisture came from the fish.

I should have rinsed the salmon at this point, but I forgot.  Because of this, it turned out to be excessively salty.

I dried the salmon using paper towel, and left it on a rack, uncovered, in the fridge for about 2 hours to dry extra well.  From what I have read, this stage is super-important if you want the smoke flavour to stick.

This is a charcoal BBQ/smoker so I started it up about half an hour before I was ready to get smoking.  The fire is in a separate box attached to the side of the grill.  You build up a fire with charcoal and then you put the chips (in a tinfoil bag with holes in it) or blocks of wood on the fire to make some smoke.

The problem I encountered with this is that it got too hot too soon.  The fish actually cooked instead of slowly gathering smoke.  But not a complete loss.  Each time I use this smoker, I learn something new.

In the end, I only smoked it for about 2 hours.  Next time I think I'll smoke it for at least 4, maybe 8 hours.

But it looks good, and if you can get past the over-salty-ness of the whole thing, it actually has a lot of potential.

I wonder if I should add the label 'kitchen failure' to this post or not.  I mean, we ate the fish, and I learned a heck of a lot about smoking salmon.  But to be completely honest with you, it wasn't exactly the best smoked salmon in the world.  In fact, I would be ashamed to serve this to someone, even a friend.

But then again, I tried something new, without a recipe, and had fun making it.  I discovered new information about my smoker that I never realized before.  And about fish, and about curing in general.

Eventually, I'll get it right and post the final recipe here.

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